DARBY TOWNSHIP >> When the Cedar Craft & Kitchen holds its grand opening in May, local residents will discover a casual Italian restaurant and tavern with a friendly neighborhood feel and an upbeat vibe. Housed in the former Briarcliffe Bar & Grille at 1061 Cedarwood Road in the Briarcliffe section of Darby Township, Cedar Craft & Kitchen will feature a warm and rustic family-friendly atmosphere with homestyle food, affordable wines and cocktails and fun drinks.

The new restaurant’s three owners all have deep roots in Delaware County. Paul DiBona, a member of Monsignor Bonner Class of 1998, was born and raised in Havertown where he still resides. He is a trained chef, who studied at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill. Sam Arbitman, a native of Springfield, currently lives in Ocean City, N.J. Rich Fattori, also a Springfield native, currently makes his home in Briarcliffe.

The trio comes with an extensive background in the restaurant and tavern field. DiBona is owner of the eleven-year-old Pepperoncini in Conshohocken and Arbitman and Fattori own and operate the three-year-old Moonshine in South Philly.

DiBona said that the area is a win-win for the new eating establishment because there are 2,800 homes within 2 miles, and Cedar Craft & Kitchen will offer quality and affordable dining — plus convenience.

“What will set Cedar Craft & Kitchen apart from the others is our authentic Italian menu,” DiBona explained. “Our emphasis will be on quality, freshness and home-style comfort food. The former Briarcliffe Bar & Grill was more of a play pool, shot and beer joint. This new establishment is totally different. It will be more of a neighborhood restaurant where individuals and families can dine and everyone will feel comfortable.”

Co-owner/chef DiBona will oversee the development and implementation of the menu which will be prepared by sous chef Carlos Gonzales, formerly of Pepperoncini. The new menu, which can be previewed online, features appetizers like Risotto Bites, Mussels and Stuffed Long Hots and entrees such as Chicken Piccata (chicken in lemon butter sauce, mashed potatoes, asparagus), Portobello Pile Up (spinach, roasted peppers, asparagus, caramelized onions, grilled potato) and their signature Meatloaf (caramelized onion tomato gravy, horseradish mashed potatoes). Also listed on the new menu are assorted salads, burgers, soups and other sandwiches.

“We have the best meatloaf and the best burgers around,” DiBona stated. “Plus we have some unique flavors and recipes that are unique to our menu. I think the customers are really going to like what we have here.”

The restaurant will comfortably seat 40. The bar, with an additional 20 stools, will offer creative cocktails, a small wine list and 12 taps featuring local and national craft beer on draft as well as traditional bottles and cans. Outdoor sidewalk seating will be available, weather permitting, and parking is ample in the restaurant’s lot.

“We all get around the area so we know what works and what doesn’t,” DiBona explained. “We are all familiar with the neighborhood, so we know what the people around here want.”

Renovations have taken several months, and included exterior and interior major enhancements, including the newly designed bar and a complete overhauled kitchen. Albert DeFruscio of Pro Enhancement Group is the lead contractor.

Once it’s open and running, DiBona said Cedar Craft & Kitchen will have live music Thursday through Saturday.

“It will probably be one-person acoustic, playing music that is relaxing for dining,” DiBona explained.

DiBona also said that the owners hope to feature Good Sundays and Good Mondays, where a certain percentage of dining sales can go toward benefitting local charities and community organizations.

The restaurant will employ about 15 people. The end of April or the beginning of May is the targeted soft opening date, with the grand opening scheduled to be held Tuesday, May 9.

“The restaurant is small and casual,” DiBona remarked. “It has a warm, cozy feel to it. I like it because we not only have terrific food, but we can also have really good customer engagement here. Cedar Craft Kitchen & Bar will be, first and foremost, all about the people we serve.”

Cedar Craft Kitchen & Bar at 1961 Cedarwood Road, Glenolden, will be open for dinner seven nights a week, with lunch to follow at a later date. Take-out is available and the dining room can be manipulated for larger parties. For more information or hours, call 610-537-7003, 610-583-5001 or visit barcck.com.

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